Francis Marion History Professor John Britton recently served as a member of the Oxford Round Table at Harris Manchester College of Oxford University in England.
The Round Table is made up of academics from universities in Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States. The theme for this year’s Round Table was, “History and International Politics: The Nature of Empire.” The 36 participants considered broad trends in world history, including several examples of imperialism and their relevance to the 21st century.
Britton gave a paper on “Communications and Military Intervention in Historical Perspective: The United States and Latin America, 1885-1989.” This paper concentrated on the use of the telegraph in the U.S. intervention in Panama in 1885. This intervention was the first to use the recently built network of international submarine cables that connected the United States, Latin America, and Europe and became a prototype for later interventions.
The Oxford Round Table was established in 1989 to bring together scholars and academic administrators from various fields to discuss issues in their areas of specialization. Participants in this year’s Round Table made presentations on a wide range of topics, including “The Baltic – A Sea of Tensions through the Ages” by Nils Blomkvist of Gotland University in Sweden; “The Ethical Promise of Western Political Theory; from the Distillation of the Gospel to the Foundations of Liberalism” by Gary Trompf of the University of Sydney in Australia; and “Rethinking Historical Methodology: The Annales School and Japanese Historians” by Ako Kobayashi of Saitama University in Japan. Carl Schuster of Hawaii Pacific University, who recently retired as an officer in U.S. Naval Intelligence, made a presentation on the strengths and weaknesses in the analysis of intelligence in the months preceding the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Britton’s collaborative efforts abroad are extensive. In fact, he and professor Jorma Ahvenainen of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland completed a unique collaboration in the field of global business and communications history in 2004.The two pooled their research for what eventually became the article titled “Showdown in South America: James Scrymser, John Pender, and United States-British Cable Competition,” which appeared in the Business History Review, a professional journal published by the Harvard Business School.
Britton is the Gasque Professor of History and an FMU Board of Trustees Research Scholar who has produced several publications in the field of communications history.
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